Microsoft to Launch Retail Stores
By Tom Ryan
Borrowing a page from
Apple’s playbook, Microsoft plans to open Microsoft-branded retail
stores. Although details were limited, Microsoft said the stores’ purpose
will be to "create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to
learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy."
To head the initiative,
David Porter was hired as vice president of retail stores. He spent 25
years at Wal-Mart Stores before joining DreamWorks Animation SKG in 2007
as head of worldwide product distribution. His last role at Wal-Mart was
vice president and general merchandise manager of entertainment.
Microsoft said the first
priority of Mr. Porter would be to define where to place the Microsoft
stores and when to open them. The stores could feature a range of products
from personal computers running its Windows operating system to cell phones
running the company’s Windows Mobile operating system to its Xbox videogame
"This is an exciting
time with our strong lineup of upcoming product releases including Windows
7 and new releases of Windows Live and Windows Mobile," said Microsoft
chief operating officer Kevin Turner.
"We’re also working hard to transform the PC and Microsoft buying experience
at retail by improving the articulation and demonstration of the Microsoft
innovation and value proposition so that it’s clear, simple and straightforward
for consumers everywhere."
But many questioned the
timing of the launch during a recession, as well as the potential to alienate
retail distributors. OEM partners might become rankled at how their wares
are showcased in the stores. The failure of Gateway’s retail venture as
well as Microsoft’s own attempt to open a store in 1999 was also widely
A lot of the criticism
focused on the challenges of competing against Apple’s stores and their
hip design, helpful staff and "genius bars."
In a research note, Allan
B. Krans with Technology Business Research said
the introduction of Apple stores was helped by the launch of the iPod but
Microsoft doesn’t have a similar traffic driver.
"Microsoft is putting
the cart before the horse," wrote Mr. Krans. "Stores
do not draw consumers to products; innovative products bring consumers
Dan Frommer saw potential benefits in showcasing all of Microsoft’s
products in one place. He wrote, "At
very least, they could do a better job than Best Buy at showing off PCs."
What do you think of Microsoft’s move into retailing? What would be the
key to Microsoft’s success in retail?
- Microsoft Appoints David Porter
as Corporate Vice President of Retail Stores – Microsoft Corp.
- Microsoft to Open Stores, Hires
– The Wall Street Journal
- Microsoft to launch its own retail
stores – Los Angeles Times
- Microsoft To Open Retail Stores – Silicon